Creative play is key to educating students

To the editor:

As another educator who retired nearly 20 years ago, I totally agree with Christine Jordan's letter of Jan. 25 in which she makes a strong case for bringing fun and play back into the classroom.

In a recent issue of Teachers College Today (I am an alumna of TC, Columbia University) there was an article entitled "Policymakers: Lighten Up!" by Haeny Yoon, assistant professor of education. She believes that children develop language and literacy through creative play and that their play can be a rich source of information for teachers.

She has studied kindergarten classrooms where children were beginning to write. While some teachers pounded home phonics and formalized writing, others embedded writing activities in play. "The kids saw writing as a tool to enhance their play. The more authentic and mindful writing happened around play through social relationships — including writing 'love letters' and birthday party invites."

With universal pre-K in New York City promoting a stricter focus on basic skills, Professor Yoon urges teachers to protect playtime. "Teachers must be researchers who gather information on kids beyond academic performance. That's what play gives you."


Because of the research that supports creative play and the positive experiences retired teachers had with play, it is my hope that our local educators, whether administrators and/or teachers, will encourage more "fun" in the classroom.

Barbara A. Mahony, Pittsfield